In December of 2014, history was made as the ABLE Act was signed into law by President Obama. As stated by Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, "some have called the ABLE Act the most significant piece of legislation affecting the disabled since passage of the American Disabilities Act nearly 25 years ago.” The bill was supported overwhelmingly in both chambers of Congress and by both parties across the aisle. This accomplishment took nearly a decade to achieve, with countless hours of negotiations and with the dedication of thousands of advocates.
So, we got the bill signed by the President. All is good. . . right?
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Once a bill is signed into law, it has to be implemented. In this case, states need to take action to allow for a new type of savings account -- a 529a account. So who runs the 529 accounts? How do we get these new accounts in place? These questions are much more complicated than they seem.
Most states are implementing ABLE with state bills to enact these new accounts in their individual 529 state tax codes. These bills are a little complicated and have lots of tax-specific language.
Our task? Pass these bills in all 50 states to ensure that people have access to ABLE savings accounts.
This task is seemingly impossible. Luckily we have incredible partners in organizations such as the National Down Syndrome Society, the National Disability Institute and numerous other disability and autism organizations. And we have all of you.
As of today, March 5th 2015, we have 26 states with pending legislation, 3 states with enacted legislation (one of which we are seeking to amend), and many others in the process of filing legislation.
Moral of the story: We need your help.
Do you live in one of the states below? If so, call your state house member/delegate/state senator/assemblyman/assemblywoman and ask if they could help pass the bill listed. Not sure how to find your state representative? You can click here to find out. All you have to say in a call or an email is,
“Hi my name is _____________ I am a constituent of Senator/Representative/Delegate ______________ and I would like to ask if they could support HB/SB/AB _________.”
It really is that simple.
Here is the list of states, and where they are in regard to ABLE-enacting legislation.
States that have pending ABLE legislation (HB=House Bill, SB=Senate Bill, A=Assembly Bill):
- Arizona | HB 1239 sponsored by Rep. Julie Mayberry, Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson
- California | SB 324 sponsored by Sen. Pavley
- Connecticut | HB 6738 sponsored by Program Review and Investigations Committee
- Florida | SB 642, SB 644, SB 646, HB 935, HB 937, HB 939 sponsored by Sen. Benacquisto, Rep. R. Rodrigues
- Hawaii | HB 119 sponsored by Rep. Belatti
- Iowa | SB 1210 sponsored by Sen. Mathis
- Illinois | HB 3117, HB 3360, HB 3370, SB 1383 sponsored by Rep. Pritchard, Rep. Fine, Rep. Bellock, Rep. Meier, Sen. Bennett
- Kansas | HB 2100 sponsored by the Committee on Children and Seniors
- Kentucky | HB 460, SB 188 sponsored by Rep. Denham, Rep. Kerr, Rep. Flood, Sen. Schroder
- Maryland | HB 1105, SB 761 sponsored by Sen. Feldman
- Missouri | SB 174 sponsored by Sen. Schmitt
- North Dakota | HB 1373 sponsored by Rep. Dosch, Rep. Trottier, Sen. Davison
- Nebraska | SB 591 sponsored by Rep. Bolz
- New Hampshire | SB 265 sponsored by Sen. J. Bradley
- New Jersey | A 3956 sponsored by Asw. Lampitt, Asm. Greenwald, Asw. Vainieri Huttle, Asm. Benson
- New Mexico | HB 448 sponsored by Rep. Williams-Stapleton, Rep. K. Martinez, Sen. B. O'Neill
- New York | SB 1006 sponsored by Sen. Carlucci
- Oregon | SB 777 sponsored by Sen. Gesler
- Pennsylvania | HB 444, HB 583 sponsored by Rep. Stephens, Rep. D. Miller
- Rhode Island | HB 5564, SB 413, SB 465 sponsored by Rep. Nardolillo, Rep. Chippendale, Rep. Lancia, Rep. Costa, Rep. Giarrusso, Sen. Kettle, Sen. Ottiano, Sen. Algiere, Sen. Gee, Sen. Morgan, Sen. Satchell, Sen. P. Fogarty, Sen. Picard, Sen. E. O`Neill, Sen. Ottiano
- South Carolina | HB 3768 sponsored by Rep. G. M. Smith
- Tennessee | HB 896, SB 429 sponsored by Rep. K. Brooks, Sen. Massey
- Utah | SB 0292 sponsored by Sen. Weiler
- Virginia | HB 2306, SB 1404 – *Pending Governor’s Signature sponsored by Del. Filler-corn, Del. Kory, Del. Marshall, Sen. Stosch
- Washington | HB 2063 sponsored by Rep. Kilduff, Rep. Kagi, Rep. Jinkins, Rep. Springer, Rep Hunter, Rep Ormsby, Rep Tharinger, Rep. Tarleton
- West Virginia | HB 2902 sponsored by Rep. Campbell
Congratulations to these states that have enacted ABLE legislation:
· Minnesota (we’re going back to seek amendment to the original bill) | HB 161, SB 39, SB 303
States that don’t have an ABLE bill yet (this list changes minute-to-minute; to check to see if your state has added a bill since this blog was posted, email email@example.com):
· North Carolina
· South Dakota
Not sure what to say? We’ve done this part for you. Head over to the Autism Speaks website and check out our Advocacy tab. You can fill out a form to submit an action item, which will help you draft an email to your local representative. The link is here.
Don’t hesitate to email us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After you make a call or write an email to your representative, make sure to post on social media using the hash tag #AutismVotes and #ABLEact.
Your phone call could help give families in your state the ability to save for their child’s future. One phone call can make a difference!
Thanks for your support!
Legislative Aide at Autism Speaks